Week of 3 January 2022
Agrifood systems need to become more resilient, which includes building the resilience capacities of small-scale producers
Our key takeaway: Our agrifood systems are fragile, and the FAO highlights the urgent need to increase their resilience. This includes building the absorptive capacity of agrifood systems, and specifically building the resilience capacities of small-scale producers whose livelihoods are increasingly vulnerable to climate shocks and depletion of natural resources.
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) released ‘The State of Food and Agriculture 2021. Making agrifood systems more resilient to shocks and stresses’. Some highlights:
- Resilience, resilience, resilience: “To preserve their functionality and ensure the food security, nutrition and livelihoods of millions of people, agrifood systems must become more resilient to increasing shocks and stresses of diverse origins, both biophysical and socio-economic.” The FAO finds that “a shock in any component” (primary production, food supply chains, domestic transport networks and households “can spread rapidly throughout systems.” “The fragility of agrifood systems can affect large numbers of people: already 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet and an additional 1 billion would join their ranks if a shock reduced their income by one-third. Food costs could increase for up to 845 million people if a disruption to critical transport links were to occur.”
- Importance of building the absorptive capacity of agrifood systems: The FAO speaks about five distinct resilience capacities agrifood systems must have: to prevent, anticipate, absorb, adapt and transform. Within these, “absorptive capacity is critical in confronting unforeseen shocks and is complementary to risk management of shocks that can be anticipated.” “Key to building the absorptive capacity of agrifood systems is diversity in food sources (domestic production, imports or existing stocks), diversity of actors in food supply chains, redundant and robust transport networks, and affordability of a healthy diet for all households, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.”
- Focus on building resilience capacities of small-scale producers: The FAO highlights the importance of developing “small and medium agrifood enterprises, cooperatives, consortia and clusters, as well as social protection programmes” to enhance the resilience of food supply chains. Further, the FAO recommends building the resilience capacities of rural low-income households, “in particular small-scale producers whose livelihoods are increasingly vulnerable to climate shocks and depletion of natural resources, can be significantly strengthened through education, non-farm employment and cash transfers.”